Language is never neutral—but we have to tryby Jessica Abrahams / January 29, 2016 / Leave a comment
Around a million migrants are believed to have crossed into Europe during 2015 without the correct documents, three or four times as many as the year before. Those migrants come from various backgrounds and have various reasons for moving, but many were fleeing conflict and violence, with about half arriving from Syria.
The west has struggled to find the right words to talk about this. The row over David Cameron’s description of those waiting in Calais as “a bunch of migrants” is the latest example, but the problem is pervasive. Fingers are often pointed at the media for not thinking sufficiently hard about the language we use. This is something of which we are all guilty, from politicians in Westminster to everyday conversations among friends, and it all plays a role in how the debate develops. But those with loud voices, including the media, do have more influence over which words are used and how.